The Evolution of the Bounce House


The bounce house, also known as an ‘inflatable castle’ or ‘jumping castle’, is a popular party attraction that has been providing hours of entertainment for children and adults alike for decades. Over the years, the bounce house has evolved and improved to meet diverse range of needs.

Today, bounce houses come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and themes, and are enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. In this article, we will explore the rich history of the bounce house, from its humble beginnings to its current place as a beloved part of modern childhood.

Who invented the bounce house? 

The concept of the bounce house was first invented in the late 1950s by John Scurlock, an engineer, and inventor from Shreveport, Louisiana. Scurlock, who had previously worked on developing inflatable structures for NASA, fire departments, tennis courts, and much more, saw the potential for using inflatable technology for fun.

John Scurlock was a man with a passion for engineering and innovation. Born in 1922, Scurlock grew up in rural Louisiana and showed an early interest in science and technology. After graduating from high school, he attended Texas A&M University, where he earned a degree in engineering. Later, he would go on to teach at Tulane University and specialize in the use of plastics. 

In the years directly preceding the invention of the bounce house, he was working extensively on projects for NASA. In 1958, Scurlock invented and began distributing what he called “Space Walk” – an inflatable cushion meant for stunt performers and fire departments. So his inventions have not only led to great fun and many memories; they’ve saved many lives.

Despite the commercial success of his business, Scurlock remained focused on new designs and expanding his horizons. Throughout his career, Scurlock was known for his creative problem-solving abilities and his commitment to using technology to improve people's lives. His invention of the bounce house was one of many great examples of this, bringing joy and excitement to children and adults alike.

The first bounce house appears

In 1959, Scurlock debuted his first inflatable castle at a children's party in Shreveport. The castle, which was made from PVC vinyl and had a slide attached to the side, was a huge hit with the kids and marked the beginning of a new era in children's party entertainment.

Over the next few years, Scurlock continued to develop and improve his inflatable castle designs, and by the late 1960s, the bounce house had become a popular attraction at carnivals, fairs, and other events across the United States. 

Another inventor?

Although John Scurlock is often credited with the invention of the bounce house, another inventor filed a similar patent around the same time: Robert (Bob) Regehr

Regehr’s concept of a ‘moon walk’ was inspired by his observation of children jumping on air mattresses and trying to walk on the moon. Here he saw the potential for a unique and fun entertainment option, and set out to design his first inflatable bounce house for kids.

From then on, like Scurlock, Regehr’s inflatables were a big hit with children adding to the immense popularity inflatables enjoy today.

How did the bounce house become so popular?

With something as fun as the bounce house, you might wonder how that’s a question at all. Why wouldn’t the bounce house be an overnight success? Well, despite its early popularity, the bounce house concept still needed work to spread across the world.

In the decades that followed its invention, the bounce house industry continued to grow and evolve. Inflatable manufacturers began producing a wider variety of bounce house designs, including castles, slides, obstacle courses, and of course the famous Combo Bounce house. The use of bounce houses also expanded beyond parties and events, with many schools, daycares, and other organizations incorporating them into their playgrounds and recreational programs.

Today, the bounce house industry is a multi-million dollar business, with thousands of companies around the world producing and renting out inflatable structures for a wide range of uses. According to, the industry is worth upwards of 100 million dollars. In addition to being a popular party attraction, bounce houses are now commonly used for a diverse variety of applications.

The popularity of bounce houses has also led to the development of specialized inflatable structures for specific purposes. For example, there are bounce houses designed specifically for use in water, which is often used at beaches and water parks. There are also inflatable obstacle courses and interactive games that provide a more challenging and exciting experience for older children and adults.

Giant inflatable parks

As time went on, the design for inflatables became increasingly ambitious – leading to massive inflatable parks. These parks found a way to include all the many inflatable designs and structures into one massive experience. Ultimately, this lead to what is now the world’s largest inflatable park: The Big Bounce America. The park boasts a massive 900 foot long obstacle course and much more. 

Today, inflatable parks are cropping up all over America and the world inspiring even more new inventions along the way. All this shows what a little spark of imagination for kids fun can lead to.

What comes next?

Looking to the future, the bounce house industry shows no signs of slowing down. Inflatable technology continues to advance, with new materials and designs being developed to create even more exciting and innovative bounce houses. 

There is also increasing interest in the use of bounce houses for more diverse applications, such as disaster relief shelters and military training simulations. With its history of providing endless hours of fun and enjoyment, the bounce house promises to continue bringing joy to people of all ages for many years to come.

Want to be a part of history?

Bounce houses continue to evolve and develop with new designs emerging all the time. Austin bounce house rentals are keeping the history alive. Here in Austin, you can be a part of the history through easy and affordable rentals delivered and set up for free. 

Follow this link to get find out how to rent your bounce house in Austin!


Looking for a Foam Party Canon instead? Click here!